About 4000 people gathered at Cottesloe Beach on January 4 to protest against the Western Australian Liberal government's plan to cull sharks. This policy would have Perth’s beaches lined with drum lines and baited hooks a kilometre out from the coast and shark fishermen instructed to kill any tiger, great white or bull sharks spotted in the designated zones.
The plan is a knee-jerk response to a small number of high profile cases of people being attacked by sharks off the state’s coast in recent years and amounts to a policy of environmental vandalism by killing endangered species without any evidence that it will save lives.
The rally, which was part of a national day of action, was held in the electorate of Premier Colin Barnett and was organised to demand the state government abandon the proposed shark cull.
WA Shark Conservation founder Ross Weir told the crowd that if this policy went ahead it would result in the destruction not just of sharks but also stingrays, dolphins, large fish and turtles.
Greens senator Rachael Siewart blamed the federal government for not intervening to protect the Great White Shark which is on the International Union of Conservation and Nature's red (endangered) list.
Managing director of Sea Shepherd Jeff Hansen called the great white shark the "doctor of the ocean" which maintains the life support of our ecosystem. Nyoongar Elder Ben Taylor in his welcome to country speech said that Barnett should hang his head in shame and that sharks were part of his culture and spirituality.
[Another national day of action against shark culling has been called for February 1. Protests are being held in Perth, Bunbury, Sydney, Burleigh Heads, Cairns and Melbourne.]
PHOTOS: ALEX BAINBRIDGE